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Chapter Objectives
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Origins: Communism, Hollywood, and the American Way
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • summarize the history of the Cold war from the 1917 revolution in Russia to the 1991 fall of Soviet Communism, with attention to American reactions to socialism and Bolshevism.
  • discuss the red scare of the 1920s, with attention to early anti-Communist films and American trial or censure of suspected anarchists and "subversive" actors.
  • examine the depictions of capitalist characters in early Hollywood films, and list several of Ayn Rand's suggestions to filmmakers dealing with capitalist characters.
  • distinguish between a reactionary populist approach to capitalist characters and a radical communist approach.
  • discuss depictions of communist, socialist, or Bolshevik characters or figures in 1930s Hollywood films, with attention to the gubernatorial campaign of Upton Sinclair.
  • characterize 1930s Hollywood's difficulty in moderating between rejection of new Fascist powers in Europe and rejection of their Communist political opponents, with attention to the films Blockade and The Grapes Of Wrath.
  • discuss the formation of the House Un-American Activities Committee and several of its early initiatives through World War II.
  • discuss the formation and activities of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, and name several of its members.
Inquisition: HUAC, McCarthy, and the Hollywood Ten
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • cite the origin of the term "Iron Curtain," and discuss the relationship between the spread of Communism under the Iron Curtain in Europe and American fears and allegations of Communism.
  • discuss the relationship between union membership and activity and Communism, whether real or imagined.
  • describe the initial House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in 1947, and name the members of the "Hollywood Ten" and discuss their situation.
  • name several members of the Committee for the First Amendment, and describe their role in the hearings.
  • describe the Waldorf Statement, and discuss the formation and effects of the blacklist as the film industry's attempt at self-censorship.
  • discuss several events of the period between 1947 and 1951 that lead to the escalating power of the 1951 HUAC hearings, with attention to formations of Communist governments and espionage activities, whether actual or imagined.
  • discuss the career and importance of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
  • describe the controversy surrounding the decisions of studio employees to name names, and list several people who did so.
The Cold War On Screen
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • discuss the reasons behind Hollywood's production of pro-Soviet films in the early 1940s, and describe Jack Warner's defense of these productions in 1947.
  • list several films that portray Communists made in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and describe their portrayals of Communist characters.
  • discuss the relationship between science-fiction films of the early 1950s and the tensions of the Cold War.
  • analyze The Ten Commandments and The Robe as using the genre of the biblical epic to stage two opposing arguments about the activities of McCarthy and HUAC.
  • analyze Westerns that allegorized the McCarthy era such as High Noon, Broken Arrow and Johnny Guitar, and discuss their treatments of McCarthy-esque situations.
  • discuss the activities of blacklisted screenwriters in the 1950s, and describe strategies they used to continue working in Hollywood while blacklisted.
  • discuss the film Salt Of The Earth, with attention to both its narrative and the difficulties its producers encountered in making and distributing it.
  • describe Charles Chaplin's interactions with HUAC, and analyze the film A King In New York as an overtly anti-HUAC statement.
  • analyze the film On The Waterfront as a film supporting those witnesses who chose to name names when testifying before HUAC.
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • describe the waning of HUAC's and McCarthy's influence in the middle of the 1950s, and Hollywood's abandonment of the blacklist in the early 1960s.
  • contrast Hollywood's treatment of Communism and Communist characters in the 1950s to those of the 1960s.
  • discuss the subsequent history of Hollywood's engagement with the Cold War, with attention to the following films: Dr. Strangelove, Papillon, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rocky IV.
  • describe the engagements of 1980s action thrillers with the Cold War, with attention to films such as Top Gun, Red Dawn, No Way Out, and Rambo III.
  • examine recent films such as The Hunt For Red October, The Majestic, and Guilty By Suspicion as examples of Hollywood's reconsideration of McCarthy-era and Cold War politics and political processes.

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